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Swaraj, Jaitley released, BJP hoists flag at Kathua

Last updated on: January 26, 2011 19:11 IST

Swaraj, Jaitley released, BJP hoists flag at Kathua

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar, who were arrested when they crossed the Jammu border on Tuesday, were released from custody by the Jammu and Kashmir authorities.

Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha chief Anurag Thakur along with 200 BJP activists was also released by the Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday. After his release, he hoisted the tri-colour at Police Training College at Kathua, where they were kept after being arrested in violation of prohibitory orders during Rashtriya Ekhta Yatra at Lakhanpur -- the gateway to Kashmir.

Swaraj atacked the J&ashmir government for arresting Leaders of Opposition from both Houses of Parliament while making a "farce" of inviting them to the official Republic Day parade in Srinagar.

"This is an extra-ordinary situation. India completes 61 years of being a Republic. This is the first Republic Day after Emergency when Leaders of Opposition of both Houses of Parliament were kept under arrest. And our fault was that we were entering Jammu and Kashmir and for this crime we were arrested," she said.

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Additional Inputs: Agencies


Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com
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A number of BJP activists and leaders of separatist groups including Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front were arrested on Wednesday for violating prohibitory orders as J&K government foiled their plans to hoist flag at Lal Chowk, which was turned into a fortress.

At least 16 separatist leaders, including JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, were arrested as they tried to march towards Lal Chowk here to hoist the party flag on Clock Tower.

"Malik and other leaders including Bilal Gani Lone and Shahidul Islam of Moderate Hurriyat Conference were arrested as they were marching towards Lal Chowk," a spokesman of the JKLF told PTI. He said the separatist leaders started the march from Maisuma locality towards Lal Chowk around noon.

Police intercepted the leaders and took them into custody. Malik, Lone and several other separatists had gone into hiding over the weekend as they apprehended arrest by police to foil their 'Lal Chowk chalo' march.

The JKLF chairman had called for the march to Clock Tower to counter the BJP's plan to hoist the national flag.

Earlier in the day, a BJP supporter appeared at Regal Chowk, less than 100 yards from Clock Tower at Lal Chowk, carrying a national flag, officials said. Srikant, a resident of Gurgaon in Haryana, was apprehended before he could make his way to the venue for hoisting the flag and was taken to Kothibagh police station.

Six other BJP activists were arrested near a hotel in Srinagar for violating prohibitory orders, the officials said.


Image: JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik arrested by the state police

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Mobile phone connectivity was suspended on Wednesday morning as part of the overall security precautions.

The main Republic Day function was held at the heavily-guarded Bakshi stadium here where the state finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rather unfurled the tri-colour and took the salute and later addressed the function.

Rather said that 'dialogue was only way-out and appealed everyone to join the process'. He also highlighted the achievements of the coalition government headed by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah which completed its two years in office early this month.

The BJP rejected Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's offer to attend Republic Day function either in Jammu or in Srinagar, terming it as a mere lip service.

"It is a lip service by him (Omar). We do not give credence to it and turn it down," BJYM national president Anurag Thakur told media persons in Kathua district, around 70 km from Srinagar.

"Omar first arrested leaders of the nationalist party and then did not allow the hoisting of national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar as if it is not a part of the country. Then he invites us as a state guest for the tricolour hoisting on the Republic Day in the state," Thakur said.



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The chief minister had invited BJP leaders to be a state guest at the R-Day functions either in Jammu or Srinagar.

Terming it as "unacceptable", Thakur alleged that Omar was muzzling the voice of nationalistic forces and giving moral boost to separatist forces in the Kashmir Valley.

Thakur, along with senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Shanta Kumar, were arrested on Tuesday on charges of violating prohibitory orders in Lakhanpur border during the Ekta Yatra and were lodged in a hotel after being booked.



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